GM safety practices no longer under NHTSA oversight; meetings will continue


General Motors’ safety practices are no longer under the oversight of federal regulators, but the automaker said it plans to keep meeting with them at least monthly about potential defects.
GM said on Thursday it forged a “positive and productive relationship” with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the three years since it admitted failing to recall faulty ignition switches before they contributed to 124 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries.
The oversight, part of a $35 million settlement with NHTSA reached in May 2014, ended last month. GM said it has proposed continuing regular monthly meetings with senior agency officials about field investigations, recalls and other safety issues it encounters, with more frequent discussions when warranted. It also has offered to meet periodically with NHTSA and other stakeholders about industrywide safety matters.
“Over the past three years, we have taken significant strides toward our goal of setting a new standard for customer safety,” Jeff Boyer, GM’s vice president for global vehicle safety, said in a statement.
“GM’s goal is to bolster lessons learned and to continue a cooperative relationship between GM and NHTSA to help further advance motor vehicle safety,” Boyer said. “In the spirit of continuous improvement, we will constantly evolve this approach to help keep the safety of our customers at the center of everything we do.”
GM said it has received and responded to “hundreds of product safety concerns” submitted by employees through the Speak Up for Safety program it created soon after the ignition switch recalls began.
The defect affected millions of small cars with ignition switches that could be easily bumped out of position by a driver’s knee or rough terrain, cutting off power to the airbag, steering and braking systems. Some GM employees became aware that the switches were too flimsy more than a decade before the recalls.
GM CEO Mary Barra in June 2014 dismissed 15 employees, including a number of high-level lawyers who settled cases brought by victims’ families to keep the problem quiet. Barra has apologized repeatedly for what she characterized as a “pattern of incompetence and neglect” that allowed the defect to fester unchecked, and GM has since paid more than $2 billion in fines, penalties and victim compensation.
DETROIT — General Motors’ safety practices are no longer under the oversight of federal regulators, but the automaker said it plans to keep meeting with them at least monthly about potential defects.
Fuente: Automotive News